BUCKFAST ABBEY, in the Dart valley, about a mile north of Buckfastleigh, was founded by Ethelwerd, son of Wm. de Pomeroy, in 1137, for monks of the Cistercian order, and was richly endowed by him and subsequent benefactors. Its clear yearly income was valued at the dissolution at no less than £466. 11s. 2¾d. The site of the abbey was granted to Sir Thomas Dennis, and the manor of Buckfast was afterwards held by the Bakers and Doyleys, but was sold in parcels many years ago. The abbey ruins were extensive, but they were mostly taken down about 1806, except a large square tower, and a Norman arch, finely mantled with ivy. The Abbey House, built over the abbey vaults, is a modern mansion, in the castellated Tudor style. At the Grange, is the ancient tithe barn, 108 feet long; and some of the neighbouring houses appear to have been partly built with stones from the abbey ruins. The Earl of Macclesfield is lord of the manor of Brooke Mainbow, with Buckfastleigh and Button, and owns a great part of the parish. The rest is chiefly freehold, and belongs to J. J. and Charles Edwards, Esqrs., R. J. King, Esq., and the Savery, Barnes, Gower, Tucker, Furneaux, Michelmore, Hamlyn, Symons, and other families. About thirty acres are let in allotments to the poor. The manor of Kilbenland is dismembered, and that of Bosom Zeal extends into this parish. Henbury Castle, on the top of a commanding eminence, north of the village, is a circular entrenchmant of about six acres, encompassed by a deep ditch, now covered with coppice wood. Within the enclosure is a mound, surrounded by a smaller ditch, now almost concealed with trees. This earthwork is supposed to have been thrown up by the Danes. Bigaden House, the large mansion of R. J. King, Esq., has recently been much improved, and contains a fine collection of pictures and some ancient armour. Coulson Cottage is the neat residence of Charles Edwards, Esq., who possesses the faldstool which was used at the coronation of her Majesty, and was presented to him by the late Dean of Westminster. Brooke House, occupied by Mrs. Coates, was formerly a residence of the Earl of Macclesfield. The parish Church (Holy Trinity,) stands on an eminence, ascended by 144 steps, and is a lage antique structure, which, after being long in a shamefully neglected state, has been restored and beautified since June, 1844, at the cost of more than £1400. The tower contains six bells, and is surmounted by a handsome spire, the upper part of which is new, and replaces what had been gone several centuries. The interior of the church has now a handsome appearance, and comprises a nave, chancel, transepts, and two side chapels. A western gallery has been removed, and the old pews replaced by long low seats, to which doors have been added. There is now a fine open roof, instead of a plastered ceiling; and two beautiful memorial windows have been inserted, one by the vicar and his brother, in memory of their parents, the former vicar and his wife; and the other by Mr. Powning and his family, to the memory of his late father and brother. In the south transept is a mural tablet, in memory of the late Admiral Thomas White, of the Abbey House, who gave the rich furniture of the altar, which was destroyed by fire in 1849, but has been replaced by the liberality of some of the parishioners. Near the church stands a sepulchral building, over the vault of the Labell family, who were long seated at Brooke House. The vicarage, valued in K. B. at £19. 1s. 0½ d., and in 1831 at £182, is in the patronage and incumbency of the Rev. Matthew Lowndes, B.A., who has a large and respectable residence. The tithes were commuted in 1832, the vicarial for £198, and the rectorial for £232 per annum. Of the latter, £159 belongs to the Earl of Macclesfield, and £73 to the Rector of Ermington and J. J. Edwards, Esq. Here is a small Independent Chapel, built in 1798; and a large and handsome Weslyan Chapel, erected in 1835, at the cost of £1000. Under the latter is a large British School. Here is also a National School. The Parish Lands, &c., given at an early period by two sisters named Damarell, comprise a house and 13 acres, let for about £40 per annum, which is applied in the service of the church, except £2 for the poor. The Church House, formerly the parish workhouse, belongs to the same trust. The poor have the following yearly sums : – £2. 10s. out of Hamlin’s Tenement, given in 1800, by Robt. Bradford; £2. 12s. left by Sir John Acland, and paid by the Corporation of Exeter; 20s. left by John Peter, in 1570, out of the tithes of Cornworthy; £1. 12s. left by Wm. Gould, out of Wallaford estate; 20s. out of the poor rates, as interest of £20, left by Margaret Pomeroy; 20s. out of Broom Parks, left by Andrew Tinckham; 24s. 6d., as interest of £24. 10s., lent to the parish officers; and 20s. out of land at Ashburton, left by George Knowling.
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